Cruising down Council not too long ago, I spotted a restaurant called the Big Buffalo Grill, 8027 NW 23rd in Bethany, buried in the back of a junkie-fried shopping center. Intrigued, I made a mental note and then, realizing I’d forget the mental note almost immediately, grabbed a pen and wrote the name on my arm.
Having thought about that hidden diner quite a bit since that drive-by, I eventually called up my own personal Lester Bangs—local journalist and area historian Steve Lackmeyer—and invited him to head out there with me one afternoon for a couple of hours of dinin’ and cryin’.
From the outside—and, let’s admit it, the inside too—Big Buffalo Grill isn’t much to look at. With buffalo tchochkes that line most of the available free space, the dull furniture seated the few lonely old-timers that were eating their meals in quiet complacency, the only joy in the place coming from the lone waitress that seemed genuinely happy to be there.
After ordering our food from the purposely redone menus, Steve and I sat there sipping the coffee ($1.79) as I poured my recently broken heart out to him, relaying personal tales of mistaken love and romantic betrayal; Steve has always been a good person to talk to, mostly because he was dealing with this shit long before me, offering words of brutal honesty peppered with gentle spite.
“Misery is essential to being a good writer,” Steve told me, putting my admittedly dumb pain into forced perspective.
I cracked a serene smile as I used my fork to miserably desecrate the beautiful Chicken Avocado Omelette ($7.49) that was brought to the table. As I tore into it, I thought about how this was the reason why I live for these clandestine dives, as the chunks of chicken and bits of bacon were mercilessly devoured with the mixed cheese and red tomatoes, all wrapped in an incredible edible egg and covered in clumsily sliced avocado.
Fully minding the welcomed array of breakfast flavors burned into that flat-top griddle that are obviously so singular to this place, the omelette was affordable morning fare that I had to begrudging push away as the waitress brought me another Big Buffalo specialty to sample, the Buffalo Burger ($8.49).
Employing the most premium of lean buffalo—a rarity in these greasy spoons, I hear—on a toasted bun with the typical toppings of lettuce, tomato and onions. While it may look a bit routine, it is definitely a solid burger, with the thick slab of buffalo meat carrying most of the burden of well-earned flavor.
I had taken only a few bites of the burger when an older man who worked there—in the kitchen, I think—asked why I was taking pictures of the place earlier. As I stuffed more buffalo meat down my hungry gullet, Steve handled the diplomacy duties for me, telling him (and, I guess, me, in a way) that I was on the job as one of the “best restaurant critics in town.” Cómpralo ya!